Christmas away from home…..

I moved to Canada in May 2013 with my boyfriend, now fiancé and much trepidation about whether or not I would stay. Come Christmas I knew that if I went home, there was no coming back, I still hadn’t landed my dream job and the place was bloody freezing, so the decision was made. Family would come visit and we would spend our first Christmas away from home. 

Happy with our decision we threw ourselves in to making Christmas in Toronto the best yet. We decided in order to feel close to our family and friends at home we would keep traditions going as well as start some new ones. With that said the tree was decorated presents bought and wrapped and the Christmas movies chosen, we were determined! However despite the fact that Christmas decorations seemed to be on steroids and Christmas music boomed from every store the whole place just lacked Christmas Cheer. I felt odd upon hearing “Happy Holidays” and missed the usual frantic preparations and celebrations of home. 
December 2013 brought the ice storm which turned Toronto into the most Magical Christmassy looking place on earth, but it also meant spending time outside was miserable. None the less we prevailed taking in as much of the festive activities Toronto had to offer, and there was loads to do…..way more that what we could hope to do at home.  

Despite my grumbling, we enjoyed our First Christmas away from home, we got to experience a very Canadian Christmas, hockey on Boxing Day, Tobogganing after dinner, walks in the park, and visiting a frozen Niagara Falls. Having my boyfriends’ family over definitely took the sting out of missing my family at home. That didn’t stop me from bawling like a baby on Christmas Eve though when I realised it was Christmas morning in Ireland and the excitement that was now engulfing my family. 

Advice to anyone away from home over the holidays, don’t compare every experience to home, remember the grass is always greener! Luckily we are living in an era where Home is only a Skype or FaceTime away, You can experience something really special here and bring your family on the journey with you. I called to hear all about Santa’s visit and to chat with family before they sat down to dinner. 
Now in my fourth year in Toronto, I’ve alternated between Home and Toronto for Christmas celebrations, and I can honestly see pros and cons for both, I am heading home in 4 weeks for this years Christmas celebrations and I can say with great excitement that there’s nothing like that journey home for Christmas….I can’t wait.
This article was written for Openmind to bring awareness committed to raising awareness about mental health, reducing stigma and providing information about resources that can help. Contact aheeley@cmhaww.ca. For local mental health resources/information, visit http://www.mdsgg.ca

Sinéad x

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